Looking dead on to the motherboard the first thing you notice is almost the exclusive all black color scheme that MSI has got going on, apart from the gold on the ammo clip towards the bottom right the black on black look is awesome. We've seen ASRock use it recently and the slight bit of gold on offer from MSI make for a really awesome color scheme.
The whole ammo clip and mini gun heatsink up the top also grows on you pretty quickly so you shouldn't find yourself too bothered by them. They just add to the whole experience that MSI is going for here.
One of the biggest things to note about the MSI Big Bang XPower II is the form factor of the board. This is an XL-ATX motherboard, so before you buy make sure that your current case supports the larger sized boards or the case you're going to buy supports it. There would be nothing worse than trying to install the board to then discover that it doesn't fit in your case.
Moving in closer we can see that MSI has gone for exclusively a PCI Express x16 setup with a total of seven PCI Express x16 slots. This is a setup that is designed for people who want a serious video card setup. This configuration allows for four dual slot cards to be run in Quad SLI or CrossFireX, depending on your video card of choice.
Running across the bottom of the board we've got a lot of the normal culprits present with the firewire and USB headers. Some of the stand out options here, though, includes the toggle switches that allow you to disable PCI Express ports, which help you figure out which card is causing issues in the event of larger setups. This prevents you from having to remove cards in and out of your system.
We've also got the DirectOC buttons which well, give you the ability to overclock via a push of these buttons. Along with that we've also got a reset button, OC Genie button and finally a larger button that lets us swap between the Multiple BIOSs installed. Also next to the battery we can see a LED debug reader that makes figuring out any posting issues easier.
Turning the corner you can see on the far left we've got a 6-pin power connector which is used for those who are opting for larger video card setups, especially those going down the path of three or four cards. Next to that we've got a USB 3.0 header and a total of 10 SATA ports.
As for the SATA port setup we've got two SATA III ports running off the Intel X79 chip along with four SATA II ports running off the same chipset along with a further four SATA III ports that run off the ASMedia 1061 chip. As the sticker suggests, if you're only running one or two SATA III drives you'll want to use the furthest right ports that are the SATA III ports that run of the Intel X79 chipset.